How long does it take to create an eLearning module?

Posted on August 21, 2014 Under Uncategorized

eLearning calculations

This is a very common question we get asked at Learning Tech, and despite this question repeating itself with each client, we understand it is a valid question to ask.

There are formulas and metrics that all attempt to provide a simple answer. For example, a 1:100 ratio represents taking 1 hour of instructor-led content and converting this into an interactive module, which takes 100 hours. While this is a good way to start the discussion and plan a budget for, this equation poses more questions than answers.

It is our opinion that there are three major variables that determine development time:

1. How the learning content is delivered in a face-to-face environment?
2. The number of interactions, and the level of complexity
3. How your team works

1. How the learning content is delivered in a face-to-face environment?

To convert an instructor-led course to online, the question to ask is, what does the 1 hour of instructor-led content look like? Let’s say a trainer takes the learners out to a shop to experience customer service levels for 30 minutes, then comes back into the classroom to debrief for 10 minutes, and concludes with role-plays. If one was to convert all of this learning into an online delivery, how long would it take?

If we go back to the commonly talked about 1:100 ratio, we are quite confident that it would take more than 100 hours to re-create the same learning experience in an online offering. And, admittedly, an online-only delivery would never match what can be achieved in a classroom, or blended learning.

2. The number of interactions, and the level of complexity

The number and complexity of interactions play a part in determining development time. Because there is so much creative freedom in designing eLearning content, it is neigh on impossible to be 100% confident in relying on any formula or metric. We admit, some do take into account the complexity of design, but again that begs the question, what does a simple interaction mean versus a moderate-level interaction? The answer lies within the expectations of stakeholders’.

3. How your team works

We believe it is not the number of people you have on your team, but the strategy of development (ADDIE, or more recently, AGILE) and the skill sets of your team, that ultimately determine the number of hours needed to complete a module.

For example, if you are lucky enough to have a healthy budget to hire as many people as needed, you would typically hire instructional designers to write the content, eLearning developers to develop the content in Storyline or Lectora (and any other authoring tool), and finally a graphics designer to create the “look and feel” and any multimedia content.

Would a team like this guarantee high levels of productivity and quality? Yes and no, Obviously, if every member of the team is highly skilled in eLearning design, the answer is most likely a “yes”. If one or two team members are new to eLearning, there is a good chance that their thinking and design methodologies may clash with others in the team, causing work to be sent back and forth for revisions.

Sum up


Summing up…

We sure have posed more questions than answers, and we are not about doom and gloom when it comes to estimating development time. We do hope our questions throughout do give you – as a client or as a developer – some appreciation into why more often than not the answer to this question is, “it depends”. It is not discredit the question, rather, the answer is not as simple as a following a formula or a metric. It requires more analysis into what the end-goal looks like and ensuring there is a clear understanding of expectations from both parties.

There is certainly “more than meets the eye”!